Seven countries seek Fort Lauderdale Major gold


Aleksandrs Samoilovs (left) and Janis Smedins of Latvia ousted Rio 2016 Olympic champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil at the Fort Lauderdale Major on Friday afternoon.

Fort Lauderdale, March 2, 2018 - Eight teams from seven countries are still in contention for the men’s gold medal at the $600,000 Fort Lauderdale Major as two pairs from the United States earned quarterfinal spots at the opposite end of the bracket here on Friday on the courts at Fort Lauderdale Beach.

Leading the American effort are top-seeded Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena and 20th-seeded Theo Brunner/John Hyden as pairs from Brazil, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain also advanced to Saturday’s mid-day quarterfinal matches with the semifinals slated for the evening session.

Dalhausser and Lucena remained unbeaten in the competition with a 3-0 match mark after posting a 2-0 (21-17, 21-17) “Sweet 16” win in 36 minutes over 10th-seeded Gustavo "Guto" Carvalhaes/Vitor Felipe of Brazil. In pool play on Wednesday and Thursday, Dalhausser and Lucena posted wins over teams from Norway and Canada.

The 20th-seeded Brunner and Hyden had to play two matches on Friday starting with a 2-1 (15-21, 23-21, 15-11) win in 45 minutes over 17th-seeded Grant O'Gorman/Ben Saxton of Canada and ending with a 2-1 (14-21, 21-19, 18-16) victory in 50 minutes over 18th-seeded American rivals Taylor Crabb/Jake Gibb.

Other pairs winning two matches each to advance to Saturday’s quarterfinals were 11th-seeded Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands and 11th-seeded Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins of Latvia. While the Dutch were eliminating pairs from Mexico and Russia Friday, Samoilovs and Smedins ousted a Belgium pair before posting a stunning win over Rio 2016 Olympic champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil.

With the two teams meeting for the 10th-time on the FIVB World Tour, Samoilovs and Smedins posted a 2-0 (21-17, 21-16) win in 33 minutes over Alison and Bruno to even the international series between the two teams at 5-5. Alison and Bruno topped the podium at the 2015 FIVB World Tour Finals in Fort Lauderdale three months after winning the FIVB World Championships in the Netherlands.

Joining Dalhausser and Lucena as other pairs advancing to the quarterfinals with 3-0 match marks this week are third-seeded Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak of Poland, fifth-seeded Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai of Italy and 13th-seeded Adrian Gavira/Pablo Herrera of Spain.

Ninth-seeded Pedro Solberg and George Wanderley will also compete in the quarterfinals as the Brazilians have won five matches this week starting with two qualifying wins Tuesday followed by Pool Play wins on Wednesday and Thursday along with Friday’s “Sweet 16” win over 21st-seeded Michal Bryl/Grzegorz Fijalek of Poland.

Saturday’s quarterfinal matches will pit Dalhausser/Lucena against Brouwer/Meeuwsen, Samoilovs/Smedins versus Kantor/Losiak, Gavira/Herrera meeting Lupo/Nicolai and Solberg and Brunner/Hyden challenging Solberg/George.

With the women’s semifinal and medal matches being played Saturday, the men’s podium placement contests will be played mid-day on Sunday. The winning teams with share the $40,000 for winning the first of three Beach Major Series events in 2018.